I wasn’t planning on writing today. But I also wasn’t planning on being so melancholy. It just happened. The day started out great. My daughter gave a piece of art to my husband that she has been working on for 2 months. We enjoyed a nice morning together. But, naturally, I started reflecting on my own father, who left this earth 14 months ago. I miss him terribly. To be honest, Father’s day wasn’t an easy day when he was alive. They didn’t make Hallmark cards for the kind of dad I had. He was not an easy man to live with but he always had our back. He was scary at times but the world was less scary with him in it. To give you an idea of what I mean by this, picture Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino in the scene “Get off my lawn”. Everyone who saw that movie in particular, said how much Clint Eastwood reminded them of my dad. Yup, that is as close a depiction as you are going to get, minus the gun. My father was a complicated man: he was a hero in his job as a firefighter, he was a star as a basketball player when he was young, and he was a larger-than-life person in many ways. When we needed a new bathroom in our house, no contractors were hired. My father demolished the old bathroom and put in a new one. When we needed a new roof, he put on a new roof, with the help of his brother. My father did everything in a big way. He smoked A LOT of cigarettes, he drank A LOT of alcohol, he LOVED US A LOT and we knew it, and he screamed really loud and the neighbors all knew that. He defied death several times; he smoked for over 60 years, fought fires in the Bronx when the Bronx was burning, and he survived prostate cancer, laryngeal cancer and alcoholism. What was an early stage lung cancer going to do to him? He would have the lobe of his lung out and be back to driving us all crazy in no time….so we thought. But 9 days after the surgery, my father died of complications. Not only did his large presence leave a huge void for all of us, it also changed my awareness of my own mortality, in both good and bad ways. I say things that I may have left unsaid before. I wake up and acknowledge that I have another day on this beautiful earth. I am more hyper vigilant about various physical symptoms that arise….a little too aware of my own impermanence. The other change that happened since my father died was the realization that when our loved one dies, we remember the good more than we remember the bad and that even the so-called “bad” aspects are embraced after death. My sisters and I have many hilarious stories about his “Clint Eastwood” moments. It is the contrast of life that is so magnificent. I am remembering to welcome all the emotions that show up as well. Rumi describes this beautifully in his poem “The Guest House” (see below). Today, I welcomed gratitude for the two fathers of my children and for the father I had. I welcomed sadness and gave myself space for reflection. For all those out there without fathers, missing their fathers, estranged from fathers, or hating their fathers, I sent loving-kindness. For all those blessed with fathers in their life who show up and do the best they can, enjoy the moments!
The Guest House by Rumi
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.